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Spanish Premier reasserts his country's and EU's commitment to assist Tunisia

Published the:  02/03/2011

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March 2, 2011 - TAP - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero underlined that his visit to Tunisia aims to "encourage the process of historic change in Tunisia." He said he was "moved to visit Tunisia, an old nation which, today, has again found its freedom and democracy, with an exemplary process through peaceful demonstrations, which made of Tunisia a reference and a model for other countries in the Arab world."
During a press conference, held on Wednesday afternoon in Carthage as part of his friendship and working visit in Tunisia, Mr. Zapatero emphasized the solid ties binding Spain and the Maghreb and Arab countries, in general, and Tunisia, in particular. He said that Spain "sides with Tunisia in its democratic process."
"This visit does not aim to give Tunisia any advice but only to accompany its progress and development," the Spanish Premier added, underlining that Tunisia is a young country which aspires to democracy, freedom and development, and that this entails important social developments.
He reasserted the commitment of Spain and the European Union (EU) to help Tunisia open up new economic prospects, particularly through its Association Agreement with European sphere.
Besides, Mr. Zapatero spoke of the situation which he described as "very serious" on the Tunisian-Libyan border, with the flocking of thousands of refugees from different nationalities. He commended Tunisia's efforts to meet the needs of these refugees, notably its assistance to the organization of the evacuation operations.
He reminded, in this respect, that Spain is one of the first countries to have sent to the Tunisian-Libyan border an aircraft loaded with 30 tonnes of humanitarian aid to satisfy the need of 10,000 evacuees, within the framework of consultation and co-operation between the Spanish Foreign Ministry and its Tunisian counterpart. He urged the other European countries to join in the international efforts to provide aid to these thousands of refugees.
Additionally, the Spanish Prime Minister underlined his country's pledge to support the Libyans so that Libya, in turn, be a free country and enjoy democracy, in the same way Tunisia and Egypt did. He said, in this connection, that "the wind that blew across Tunisia will also blow over other Arab countries."
Mr. Zapatero asserted that "Spain is determined to be present and take side with the countries of the Maghreb, Africa and the Arab world in their change process and support them at this historic stage, driven by its firm conviction of the need to defend the values of peoples' freedom, democracy and dignity."
For his part, Mr. Beji Caïd Essebsi, Caretaker Government Premier, commended the friendship and working visit of his Spanish opposite number to Tunisia which "is going through a historic stage and a new experience, after 23 years of silence." He added that this visit evidences this friendly country's firm support to Tunisia as part of their long-standing relations.
He voiced hope that this stage be crowned with success and that success also rewards efforts of all countries which are going through similar circumstances, on the path of their quest of dignity, freedom and democracy.